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Teachers plan strike action for Monday

Pickets will be set up at schools in Whistler and all other Sea to Sky public education sites
LABOUR LESSONS Teachers will withdraw their services and set up picket lines on Monday, May 26 at schools across School District 48. File photo

On Monday, May 26 teachers in Sea to Sky country will trade lesson plans for picket signs.

As part of a province-wide BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) job-action strategy the teachers will withdraw their services that day to protest the state of contract negotiations with the BC Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA).

Carl Walker, president of the Sea to Sky Teachers Association, said teachers between Blackwater Creek Elementary, at the northern end of the school district, to Stawamus Elementary at the southern end are going to set up picket lines at School District 48 schools.

Walker said that schools will be closed on Monday and parents should plans ahead and make other plans for childcare that day.

“They will be crossing a picket line that is legally sanctioned by the LRB (Labour Relations Board),” said Walker of any students who insist on going to school that day.

Pickets are planned for all the schools and other sites controlled by the school district. Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees are expected to honour the picket lines, Walker added.

“For now it’s just week-to-week,” said Walker. “My understanding is that the BCTF is bargaining later this week. We still hope we can reach a settlement at the table.”

The BCTF said it is launching single-day walkouts around the province every day next week, except Friday, to protest what the BCTF describes as unwillingness on the part of the provincial government and the BCPSEA to offer any improvements to class size and class composition in recent negotiations. The teachers also describe the province’s most recent wage demands as unfair.

“Last week, teachers were hopeful when they saw the government and BCPSEA put out an olive branch by backing off the unrealistic 10-year term,” said BC Teachers’ Federation President Jim Iker through a news release. “But the next day, hope that this government would start negotiating in good faith faded when the employer announced a series of threats around wage rollbacks, lockouts, and attempts to divide teachers, parents, and students.”

Education minister Peter Fassbender offered teachers a time-limited signing bonus late last week. News reports that followed indicated the bonus amounted was $1,200 per teacher if a six-year deal was reached by the end of June. But the province also threatened to cut teachers’ pay by five per cent if a deal wasn’t reached before the end of this school year.

“There is a clear pattern for public-sector settlements, and BCPSEA has already tabled a fair offer that reflects these agreements,” said Fassbender on Thursday.

Check back with Pique as new details of how the labour dispute will impact local schools are released.